3 Countries in 1 Day!

Trip Start Sep 05, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Nicaragua  ,
Monday, July 24, 2006

Happy to be leaving El Salvador after only one day? You bet! It was going to be a very long day of non-stop travelling so we needed to get up as early as possible and set our alarms for 6am. We had arranged a taxi pickup to the bus station through our guesthouse for 6:30 but when we left it was nowhere to be seen. Waited around for a couple of minutes before heading to the main road and grabbing another one instead.

Shouldn't have cost more than $5 but when we got out he kept moaning about having no change. You're a taxi driver, you should have change! So after a couple of minutes I just had to give him a $10 note and walk off furious. Not the best start to the day.

To get to the border we needed to travel two thirds of the way across the country to the border at El Amitillo. As far as I am aware there are no direct buses so we found the first one to San Miguel, the third largest city in El Salvador, and local hub to the border. It wasn't a very interesting journey and took about 3 hours. We had expected San Miguel to be the final stop on the journey but after 3.5 hours we were still on the bus and they were calling out names of stops further along than San Miguel. It was obvious that we had missed our stop and the bus was going all the way to the border! Great stuff!

The bus didn't quite go all the way to the border, stopped at Santa Rosa de Lima, and we had to rush and join the connecting bus to the "frontera". There were no seats left so we had to sit right at the front on top of our bags but thankfully the journey only lasted about 20 minutes.

The second we reached the border we were pounced upon by loads of tricycle riders, displaying fake badges, trying to transport our bags across the border. We turned them down and started walking the 3km's across the border. It was a bit confusing at the border trying to figure out why we were paying them $3 and they didn't even stamp our passports. As with most border crossings you have to walk over a long bridge. The scenery here was incredible! Lush green forests and a dirty brown river, reminded me instantly of being in Asia.

We were now in Honduras and it was only 10:30! We were making great time but we weren't visiting Honduras so needed to find transport across the narrow section of land to Nicaragua. Luckily shuttle minibuses traverse the 2 hour journey border-to-border every 30 minutes. I love how frequent the buses are in Central America, it make travelling around so easy! What I didn't like though was sitting in the back of a stationary minibuses in direct sunlight for 25 minutes. It was so unbelievably hot that everyone was sweating profusely and we still weren't going anywhere even though the bus was packed.

Once we finally got underway the wind rushing in through the wide open windows soon helped to cool everyone down and it took less than 2 hours to get to Guasaule. The Nicaraguan border was even more confusing than the last one. We had to pay $7 each to leave Honduras, again no stamp, and then walk another 3km's towards the next town.

There were no signs anywhere so it was great to meet a Canadian family who were fluent in Spanish. We eventually came to a small market area and spotted a bus. As usual we were soon crowded with loads of people trying to get us in their share taxis. We decided to sit around and wait until the bus left as it was only $2. The Canadian family were a bit confused as to how long we would be waiting as none of us knew what time it was. Turned out that we had been on completely the wrong time in El Salvador which meant we left at 5:30am! No wonder the taxi wasn't there!

I was starting to warm to Nicaragua already. It was far more underdeveloped than the other countries we had been to and everyone seemed really friendly. The bus station was a small dirt clearing with a couple of small shops and donkeys walking around. Seeing as we had an hour to kill before the bus left we went to get lunch. Typical Central American food, served canteen style, and it was very nice. Downed a Pepsi in no time as it was scorching hot outside and even hotter when we boarded the basic bus.

The roads in Nicaragua are in a pretty poor state but that put me in an even better mood. I love the difficult journeys no matter how painfully uncomfortable they can be as they add to the sense of adventure. 2 hours of dodging pot holes and we arrived in Leon, yet another colonial town.

We were dumped at the side of the road and started strolling slowly into town. The Canadian family were trying to tag along but I found it quite uncomfortable so we left them checking out a hotel miles from the town centre and jumped on a big truck taxi/bus into the town centre. We were looking for a hostel called Via Via that every local seemed to keep shouting to us in the street but came to the Big Foot hostel first. I had seen flyers for this place before and it seemed quite nice so we went there instead.

I'm glad we chose this hostel as it seemed like a good laugh. We bumped into a group of Australians and head out to get some dinner and sample the Nicaraguan beers. On checking into the hostel I noticed they had "volcano boarding" on offer and it sounded like a right laugh and worthy of a splurge. When we got back to the hostel we all booked it up for tomorrow morning. Should be fun! Also means we'll be staying in a town for more than 1 night for the first time in a week!

So I really should have had an early night in preparation of the early rise in the morning but I decided it was a far better idea to sit around drinking really strong mojito cocktails instead..... I'll never learn.
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